E–sports is a growing form of competitive gaming, and now it’s made its way to northeast Michigan.
The Alcona Community Schools E–sports team has completed their first ever season, finishing up today in the state playoffs. The team played Plainwell High School in a game of Super Smash Brothers Ultimate on the Nintendo Switch.
“It’s been a learning process for us as well as the students,” said head coach Jason Stevens. “We started out kind of rough, but we’ve worked our way into it pretty good and the students have done really well and they ended up making playoffs, so towards the end of the season and they picked it up, and here we are.”
64 teams across the state of Michigan qualified for the postseason and Alcona ranked 51st. For some members of the team, it was not just a learning experience, but a re–learning experience.
“I don’t own a Switch, so I haven’t touched Smash since the Wii, so back when the Wii was a major thing, so I actually haven’t done Smash Bros., this is my first introduction back,” said senior gamer Warren Leeseberg. “I’ve played maybe a few times on the Switch, but this is overall my first time actually getting to play the game in years.”
This first E–sports season is another way for students to get involved with something at Alcona Community Schools, and it’s a chance for them to learn valuable life lessons as well. They received a grant from Inspiration Alcona in order for the program to be possible.
“It’s so much more than simply saying, ‘we’re sitting around and playing games,'” said assistant coach Scott Reynolds. “Students are demonstrating leadership, collaborative skills, problem–solving and dealing with frustration, a lot of basic life skills.”
For a small community, it’s also a way for the players to get their names out there if they want to compete in E–sports at the collegiate level.
“It can really help people get into college if they don’t have another opportunity, say, from basketball, because all sports kind of come down to skill and sometimes genetics, so it’s a nice place for people who, per se, aren’t good at any other sport to come and be able to show skills that they have,” said Leeseberg.
The Alcona team fell in their first round playoff matchup to Plainwell, but will begin the winter season in January, adding games like Rocket League and Mario Kart.